Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mark Steyn On CPSIA: "Government By Insanity"

Mark Steyn was interviewed in the first hour of today's Hugh Hewitt radio show, primarily to get Mark's reaction to this week's political news. Hugh has been covering the legislated carnage courtesy of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), and he raised the subject with the Columnist To The World:

MS: [...T]his safety thing has made every children's book printed before 1985 apparently a lethal weapon!

HH: Yes.

MS: It's illegal... if I happen to have a 1982 edition of Tom Sawyer lying around, it's illegal for me to sell that at my local rummage sale, because it'll kill the kid who reads it. This is rubbish! None of this stuff is needed... All of that gets in the way of the dynamic and productive part of the American economy.

HH: You know, Mark, it sideswiped the entire all-terrain vehicle industry, destroying a huge market segment where they would sell these vehicles to 12 and under, they can't do it now because of lead in the machines. It was not intended to do that, it just did it!

MS: Let me tell you something, I'm not going to pay any attention to that. In my little corner of New Hampshire, every 12-year old boy loves taking an ATV, loves riding it around up in the hills. And the idea that the lead in it is going to cause that kid to keel over, is preposterous. This is government by insanity...

How many businesses is this law crippling? Hugh posts an email he received as a result of the hour he devoted to CPSIA on his Monday program:

...I am a franchisee of a quick service hamburger chain sitting on $30,000 in obsolete inventory as a result of this act due to the phthalate content of our kids meal toys, which by the way had been deemed safe for years but have suddenly (first week of Feb 2009) and with no notice been determined to immediately be hazardous and non saleable. It’s a terrible blow to discard this inventory as I struggle to pay my bills in the middle of this recession.

After the Mark Steyn interview, Hugh took some listener calls, and heard from a pen manufacturer; the retailers that he sells to have apparently canceled all their fall back-to-school orders, because they are waiting to see what the long-term results of CPSIA will be. Unlike all-terrain vehicles, children may actually put pens (highlighter and otherwise) in their mouths...
How many small entrepreneurs is this law crushing? Can an outfit like Bugbitesplayfood afford to pay $10,000 for testing whether or not every component used in their hand-stitched ham sandwich is in compliance with CPSIA? What will be left of the handcraft industry if the law is left to stand? How many work-at-home mothers might have to find another way to earn an income... outside of the home, away from their kids?

If there's a silver lining to this legal monstrosity, it's the revelation of just how amazingly industrious a nation the United States has become. How many of us, for instance, were aware of the existence of an Irish Step Dance Apparel Industry?

[Hat tip to Overlawyered for the latest news of how CPSIA hurts the children's garment industry]

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